Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Crescendo

CRESCENDO (Hush, Hush #2)
Becca Fitzpatrick
Young Adult
427 pages
Simon & Schuster
Available Now

Warning: Contains spoilers from Hush, Hush.

Two months ago Nora's life got extremely complicated. Still grieving the mysterious death of her father the year before, she focused all her energy on her schoolwork until mysterious new boy Patch made himself a presence in her life she was unable to ignore. As it turned out she had link to Patch, discovering she was a descendant of Nephilium and therefore an intrinsic piece to Patch's plan of becoming human and no longer a fallen angel. To become such he either had to save her life or destroy her.

Ultimately, saving her life gave Patch back his wings, becoming Nora's very own guardian angel. Now, she's looking forward to spending as much time as possible with her new angel, but as she tries to draw closer, Patch begins to pull away, focusing instead on the bane of Nora's existence, Marcie Millar. Though Nora questions him on his relationship with Marcie, Patch remains tight-lipped and their relationship ends as quickly and intensely as it began.

Nora's boyfriend troubles aren't the only thing occupying her thoughts, however. She swears to seeing brief glimpses of her father and hears him whisper to her mind, an ability of which only Patch has been previously capable. Reeling from a shattered heart and the added weight of a renewed grief for her father, Nora struggles to understand the reality of her changed world since learning of the angels' existence, only now realizing a war is brewing between the Nephilium and those fallen like Patch, and it's a battle that will alter the face of humanity forever.

Crescendo is a decidedly unexpected read, one that, interestingly enough, is as such in both positive and negative ways. This story forces us to tip our hats in acknowledgment of a truly impressive turn of events full of complicated developments and startling realizations while simultaneously causing such profound irritation no amount of measured breathing will reduce the level of our frustration. On the positive, Ms. Fitzpatrick does a stunning job of imbuing this second installment with layer after layer of mysterious subtext, tantalizing us with fragments of a dark past that provide just enough information to send our minds reeling as we feebly attempt to connect the dots she's so beautifully positioned. This is not a lulling read, not one that progresses at a leisurely pace where we can read a chapter and calmly set it aside to be picked up at a later date; instead the pace is positively frenetic, catapulting us forward as we devour whatever crumbs of knowledge are tossed our way until we reach an end that startles a groan from our throats as we shake our heads in denial that we've truly reached the last page.

Though the story moves quickly and has moments of sheer brilliance, Nora's character has shifted in this installment into someone almost unrecognizable. In a short two-month time period she's gone from an intelligent, fairly independent young woman to a girl who has to physically force her heart to beat outside of Patch's presence, her quality of life and entire sense of self-worth fully dictated by his thoughts and actions. Her strength seems irrevocably linked to him, her world only beautiful when he touches or looks at her and practically unbearable when he denies her those sensations. Her behavior becomes increasingly erratic, words spewing from her mouth in anger without making a pass through a rational filter first, leaving both Patch and us blinking and befuddled by the ferocity of her illogical fury. Are some of her complaints valid? Absolutely, and we've all said things we've later regretted, but Nora overreacts to such a degree it causes our blood pressure to spike to an unnatural level as we attempt to make sense of her verbal attacks and relationship sabotage.

Luckily, mid-way through the book rationality begins to creep back into place, the incoherent anger misting away into intangible vapors, and though they never dissipate completely, they begin to be replaced by a visceral, raw pain that shifts our confusion regarding her antics into a sense of solidarity for a young woman scorned. Nora and Patch spend most of the book apart, using their separation to sharpen their tongues in preparation for their next confrontation, and we can do nothing but watch with a sort of horrified detachment to see who will walk away with their heart sliced to ribbons and who will walk away feeling more guilt than pain. Both parties seek to inflict suffering on the other, choosing drama over logic, hurt over rationality, and anger over honesty. There are of course extenuating circumstances preventing an open approach to fixing their relationship, but the angst and tension are so overpowering they at times detract from an exquisitely delivered one-two punch at the conclusion of the story.

Melodrama unfurls from every page, and the unfounded hostility between Nora and Patch is difficult to digest at times, leaving us with a prevalent sense of unease that refuses to evanesce even as a captivating story moves to the forefront. I feel as though I'm at the lonely end of the spectrum with my reaction to this one, but game-playing and the I've-been-wronged-so-it's-okay-to-do-wrong-in-return tactic in relationships, though especially realistic in teens, has never been something to which I can relate. I'm more of the suffer-in-silence type, concocting conversations in my head in which I verbally eviscerate the object of my wrath, but ultimately I wake up the next morning grateful those thoughts were never acted upon or spoken aloud. This second book has a fantastic story and an incredible mystery, but those elements are periodically overshadowed by some unfortunate behavior that will hopefully be remedied in book three.

Rating: 3/5


  1. I have to say I loved this one - especially the ending(!!!), but I hear what you're saying about Nora. Some of her actions really left me wondering about her, but then, in teenage relationships I was pretty melodramatic and over-reacted a lot too, so I can relate! haha! Great review!

  2. Ah, I always love your reviews! I wasn't the biggest fan of Hush, Hush but I did think Nora strove to be independent for the most part, so it's sad to hear that's changed in this one. I'm not really a fan of melodrama either, so this is probably one for me to steer clear of (although Becca Fitzpatrick does seem to have an AMAZING talent for writing the most gripping, mystery laden stories. I remember feeling the same way about the pace Hush, Hush)

  3. I liked Hush, Hush alright, and I'm sorry to hear that Nora has lost her independence in favor of being Bella to Patch's Edward. *sigh* I'm still going to read this one, though. Thanks for the review!

    -- Kat @ A Myriad of Books

  4. Fantastic review! While I agree with you on the let-me-hurt-you-nore aspect of the book is not normally something I have a lot of tolerance for, I have to ask - How does it end?!

    I know you won't tell me, I'll have to get it for myself, but I really am curious. Also, is Nora's craziness explained? Like, so involved in shiny new relationship that she loses her mind, or outside forces make her crazy? Any explanation at all?

    Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)

  5. Hiya!
    Interesting review -- I've always been kind of on the fence about this title, because some people told me I had to try it while others said to skip it, but it's sad to hear that the mc has sort of become Bella-like ala Twilight :-S Maybe things will turn up in book 3 though :-)


  6. Leanna - I loved the ending as well and teenage relationships are always drama-filled, this one was just a bit too much for me. Maybe I'm getting old:)

    Vee - I was definitely torn on this one between a great story and characters that drove me crazy.

    Kat - You definitely should read it, I enjoyed Hush, Hush as well and I'm holding out hope for book 3:)

    Jennifer - No more explanation for her behavior other than jealousy (which is understandable at times), her reactions were just so over the top.

    Darkeva - Readers are definitely split on this title, some love it some hate it. I really enjoy the story in this one, so I'm able to overlook some of the faults:)

  7. Jenny, this was an awesome and insightful review. I definitely agree with your take on Crescendo. I was so incredibly split on my take of it because I loved the mystery, but the characters quite literally had me crying for mercy from their antics haha :)

  8. Fantastic review as always Jenny. You have a wonderful way of wording things- I envy. I haven't read Hush yet. I have been running into so many YA's lately that that the teenage relationship angst to the 9th degree and it always seems to be the heroine who freaks. Just once I'd like to see the hero become whiny and dependent. lol I may save this for a later date.

  9. Ugh, I really don't like the sound of Nora in this book. I'll be looking forward to all the drama and unanswered questions from the first book though. Fantastic review, as always!

  10. Lovely review! These books don't really seem like my thing, so I haven't read them... but that's crazy that Nora changed so much. I know it shouldn't, but it always feels like a betrayal to me when a character is so different in one book from another.

  11. I just go my copy of Crescendo and look forward to reading it. I have read other reviews about how much Nora was different. Great review :)

  12. Melissa - Thank you! I had to walk away from the book several times out of sheer frustration, but then I ran back because I wanted to know what happened:)

    Tori - Thank you, from you that's quite a compliment as you write brilliant reviews yourself:) I think it would be quite entertaining to have the hero be the dependent one;)

    Adriana - She was irritating, I won't lie, but the story is great.

    Ashley - I agree, especially when the character changes due to a relationship.

    Savy - I'll be interested to see what your take is:)

  13. Enjoyed the review! Hmm, what can I say...I love the series but of the two books, despite my friends reactions, I'm still in love with the first one. Call it the first taste of a new adventure, call it new-to-me author excitement...I call it too much all at once. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the second book (though as you said, Nora was a bit out of sorts...but so was Patch), but there is SO MUCH revealed in it that I literally had to go back a time or two in order to digest what happened...especially the ending. So, was I happy with it? Yep. Will I be reading the third one? You bet! Do I think this one could have easily been two books to lessen the downpour of info? Yea...but still, my thirst for the series has not been dampered. Thanks for sharing your honest review! Happy reading...

  14. Awesome review, very well articulated and 100% how I felt as well.

    "Both parties seek to inflict suffering on the other, choosing drama over logic, hurt over rationality, and anger over honesty."

    This bothered me so much. Why torture each other? Had Patch been honest a lot could have been avoided. And I agree very much that Nora is so over the top in this one.

  15. As always, a great review, Jenny. I didn't like "Hush Hush" at all for exactly the same reason why this book didn't resonante with you. I thought the writing and plot was a bit sloppy, the mythology was unique but overshadowed by the annoying characters. Nora did nothing for me whereas Patch was just ok. Glad I made the choice to skip out on this on, espcially after reading your review.

  16. I love your review. I liked Hush Hush. I expected it to be better than it was. Can't wait to read Crescendo.

    Caroline @ Bon Bons and Reveries

  17. Jenny,

    Totally gree!! Both Patch and Nora hacked me off quite a number of times by their stupidity of not thinking before they talk firsy. It caused a lot of unecessary conflict and pain.

    Great review..mines will be up in a few weeks LOL

    Naomi aka Supernatural Bookworm

  18. GMR - I agree, I really enjoyed the first one but had a few problems with this one. Won't stop me from reading book 3 though!

    Michelle - Thank you! I agree with you on the honesty, it's so much easier to just set it all on the table:)

    Rummanah - If you weren't a huge fan of Hush, Hush, this one probably isn't for you:)

    Caroline - Looking forward to see what you think of it!

    Naomi - Can't wait to read your thoughts! So much frustration could have been avoided for sure. Maybe they got it all out of their systems in this one and we'll be irritation free in book 3:)

  19. Great review! I wasn't exactly a fan of Nora's this time around because it seemed she made way too many silly mistakes and she was acting a bit over-dramatic at times, but I still enjoyed the book too. I thought the ending was just pure evil though... I so can't wait to get my hands on Tempest! :)

  20. Nice review... I had to skim it since I have yet to read Hush Hush LOL

    Larissa Benoliel

  21. Ugh. I am not happy to hear these things. It sounds like Nora has a bit of psychopathology going on on this one, and they spend most of the book apart? *sigh*

  22. Hi Jenny,

    I have done a wee bit of jiggery pokery and my review for Crescendo will now be posted on Thursday at 9am BST =)

    Naomi aka Supernatural Bookworm

  23. Well Jenny, all I can say is if you ever decide to hold any literature lecture classes, I'm signing up.

    My thought on this are much the same. The irregular breathing and spike in blood pressure have lead me to believe the the author is definitely on to something, but in sort of... what is the word I'm looking for... (because I don't want to say frustrating or disappointing) an unsettling way.

    Not that I'm making any sense.

    Anyhoo, stellar review. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one. To be honest, I really don't see how a whole novel can continue after the end scene, but I'm curious.

  24. Midnight - Agreed, I'm still highly anticipating Tempest as well!

    Larissa - Thanks, can't wait to see what you think of the books!

    Ash - Yeah. Not my favorite of the two books, but I have high hopes for book 3:)

    Naomi - I'll check it out on Thursday:)

    Missie - Thank you so much! I'll be interested to see where the story goes after those revelations at the end.

  25. Hah! She has to force her heart to beat outside of his presence. I love it! Hugh Hush was not for me, so I'm not reading this one. :)

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